I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. I was sitting on the couch, exhausted and nursing Ella for what felt like the millionth time that morning, when Abbie came over to me, gave me a hug, and said:
“Mommy, I miss you.”
Cue my heart breaking in a million pieces.
She’d been home with me every day for three days, but I had spent most days tending to Ella and not her. I hadn’t been able to actually BE with her. There had been no puzzles or coloring, no playing with bubbles outside, no time sitting on the floor of her room playing with her dollhouse.
There I was, exhausted from taking care of Ella around the clock. I missed time with my husband and time for myself. Most of all, I was missing exactly the same thing Abbie was – time with my big girl.
When I was pregnant, Chris and I worked hard to try to explain to Abbie what was going to happen when Ella arrived, and that she would take up a lot of our time, especially mine. We emphasized how she was going to be the big girl, that baby sister would need help from her too. We did absolutely everything we could to keep her routine as normal as possible. We were concerned she would be jealous or resentful of Ella, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Abbie has accepted Ella with open arms and already loves her fiercely.
What she’s had trouble accepting is her changing relationship with us – me especially. Since I’m nursing, most days I spend glued to Ella. During the week when Abbie’s at daycare, it isn’t an issue, but weekends? Weekends are tough. Abbie is used to being able to do things with us on the weekends, and lately I feel like I’m fighting to just get the basics done. There’s also the fact that every time I get a spare moment to play with Abbie, it seems that’s exactly the moment Ella wakes up or starts crying to eat. It’s been tough on my big girl.
I wish I could say I’m handling it, or that I have all the answers, but the truth is I don’t. I don’t think any of us are 100% prepared for what happens when our family expands, whether it’s your first child or your fifth. In so many ways, this time around has been easier, but in others it’s been infinitely harder, and missing my big girl is the hardest part of all.
Moms – did you have a hard time with your older kids when adding a new baby to your family? What did you do to carve out time for them?